Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Conditioned Support

On May 4th the Clark County Commission passed a resolution, with an overwhelming majority, to support legislation for the designation of an NCA for the region that encompasses Gold Butte. Whether our personal ethics or principles allow us to support these types of designations or not I think we need to take a step back and survey the situation.

Washington has shown a strong interest in the issues concerning Gold Butte. They would not have sent out the Director of the BLM Robert Abbey to meet with a select group of people to answer questions had this not been on their radar. We would not have had the opportunity to meet with our Congressional Representatives’ staffers had our Washington politicians not been interested. After it was all said and done it was essentially left to the local political representatives to build a consensus among the residents and special interests that could then be delivered to Washington. In its most simplistic form this is what happened. I am not saying I agree with how it happened, or with all of the details surrounding it, but a resolution was passed.

There are most definitely some points in the resolution that I don’t agree with and I believe will require further negotiations however there are also some positive points included in the resolution.

In a post that I wrote on March 29, 2010 ‘Reaching Out to Our Political Representatives’ I stated that I was concerned about the roads and continued restriction to access at Gold Butte. The BLM Roads Management Plan was something that many in the community helped to build. Although the Roads Management Plan is not perfect it has become something that many of us felt like we could ‘live with.’ The second priority identified in the Clark County resolution is to incorporate the existing BLM road management plan.

I have worried the values that I regard as my way of life in regards to dispersed recreation  would be nothing more than a reminiscent dream. However the resolution makes reference to some of these core values. The second ‘WHEREAS’ in the county resolution recognizes Gold Butte as a destination for numerous recreation opportunities including camping, hiking, hunting, motorized recreation and sightseeing. The first bullet point in the list of priorities as outlined by the County Commission is to provide opportunities for camping and hunting. Are pieces of this resolution not what we were negotiating for?

One of the points in the resolution that I will, and should be, criticized is the astronomical amounts of wilderness that are proposed. In a previous post titled Appropriate Wilderness I outlined how I feel about new wilderness being proposed in the Gold Butte region. It is excessive and unjust that factions believe it is acceptable to go from 30,000 acres of wilderness to proposing over 220,000 acres of new wilderness in one unrestrained land grab. These are dangerous encroachments. Why is the protection that the National Conservation Area gives us not enough?

As I have stated several times in my writing on this blog it is my desire for a long term solution for Gold Butte that will provide us protection with access. It is for these reasons that I think we must try and make the NCA work for us. We need to work together to ensure that our Washington representatives stick to the resolution and uphold our values. Can we not give our conditioned support to a resolution that protects what so many of us consider our way of life?

There is no denying that there have been some misguided and unscrupulous public land management deals in the past. It is these previous actions that continue to plague and fester at the hearts of many of us who have vivid memories of enjoying public lands that are now closed to many types of outdoor recreation. However we can only allow that to taint our foresight to a certain degree before it inhibits progress on other fronts. If there is a workable solution that satisfies most of our needs and ends the long battle, which eventually ends is more restriction anyways, why not support it? We need to work with change not against it. We need to focus our efforts to ensure that our values and access to public lands are protected. 

If our political representatives are willing to legislate the roads upfront and reinforce our values how can we not give them our conditioned support?